Date of Graduation

Spring 2014


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Brooke Whisenhunt


This thesis sought to empirically evaluate whether the current "thin ideal” targeting women has changed over time to have an increased focus on muscularity as well as thinness. I also examined current sources of thin ideal media. In Study 1, female participants (n = 78) evaluated images of beauty pageant winners over the past 15 years on dimensions of thinness, muscularity, and attractiveness. Results indicated that Miss USA winners significantly increased in both muscularity and thinness over time, while Miss America winners increased in attractiveness. In Study 2, female participants (n = 64) viewed 2 versions of 7 images of women previously found to be good examples of the current ideal body size/shape: a Muscular/Thin image and a Thin Only image in which the appearance of muscularity was removed by digital editing. The results indicated that when images were presented in pairs, participants found the Muscular/Thin image more attractive than the Thin Only image. An analysis of participants' (n = 142) media usage demonstrated that women currently use the internet, rather than print media, to find "inspiration” to improve the body. These results indicate that the "thin ideal” figure includes both extreme thinness and muscularity. This suggests that fitness media featuring muscular, thin bodies may have the same deleterious effects as traditional "thin ideal” media, and thus may result in body dissatisfaction among women. Further, this "ideal” body may be equated with fitness and health.


thin ideal, muscularity, thinness, fitness, exercise, body image, media, female body shape, fitspiration, thinspiration

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© Frances Mary Bozsik

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